Forms of Divination: Dowsing and Pendulums

Dowsing and pendulums are one of the many forms of divination arts.  According to my dictionary, dowsing is “a technique for searching for underground water, minerals, or anything invisible, by observing the motion of a pointer (traditionally a forked stick, now often paired bent wires) or the changes in direction of a pendulum, supposedly in response to unseen influences.” A more witchy definition is dowsing is the divination art of finding the answer to a question by channeling the divine and observing the movement of an object in the practitioner’s hands.  On the art of dowsing Robert Boyle, the Father of Chemistry, said in an essay published in 1633 that “those who have seen it may much more readily believe than those who have not.”


This technique can be performed with two types of objects: dowsing rods and pendulums. Dowsing rods are two sticks or metal polls used to local objects and things in the Earth such as water, veins of metal, cable wires, etc.  Pendulums (pictured above) are any object hanging on a string to answer basic questions. Continue reading


Witch Tips: Choosing a New Deck, Set of Runes, or Other Divination Tool

There are many different forms of divination, or the art of discerning deeper into a particular situation based off of symbols and archetypes.  Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t trying to “see into the future,” but rather weed through the various forces surrounding a situation.  They can be turned to at points of personal conflict or as part of a daily practice.  If doing a reading for a friend, if possible do it ‘cold,’ or completely ignorant of the situation.  That way you won’t be reading the symbols in a way that is contrary to your friend’s understanding and perceptions.

The methods that require tools include:

  • Tarot or Oracle Decks: This method relies on common cultural symbols to divine the forces around a situation.  Tarot decks tend to be more old school and require a lot of study and practice, while oracle decks are more self explanatory.  This is by far my preferred method of divination.
  • Runes: I honestly do not know a lot about runes, however these can come in many different types (although the most commonly presented are Futhark).  I prefer the system Scott Cunningham shared in Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner,
    because the Futhark runes take more study than I currently can allow in my schedule.  However, learning to work with the Futhark runes is on my Pagan education back burner.
  • Pendulums: These are simultaneously the simplest method and the most complex.  You would think a weight at the end of a string would be easy to master, but the amount of concentration needed to master the pendulum is incredible.  If you are into gemstones, these come in gorgeous carvings.
  • Scrying: Ever laid in the grass and found pictures in the clouds?  That’s scrying!  You could use water, leaves, fire, clouds, or a black scrying mirror.
  • Dream Discerning: Again, not particularly knowledgeable about this topic, but there are a lot of books out there on interpreting dreams.

If you have never practiced any of these forms, don’t be nervous.  Work off of your instincts and balance reading up on it and practical work.

There are a couple of ideas to keep in mind while buying a new deck or set of runes.

  • If Possible, Do Not Buy Off the Internet: I own two decks: a traditional Waite deck I bought in a small shop in the Netherlands and a Goddess oracle deck I bought off Amazon.  I get stronger readings off the Waite because I handpicked it from ten others on a table rather than researching and purchasing a deck based off recommendations and reviews.  It’s also a matter of compatibility of energy.
  • Can You Make It?: While this method may be harder for decks (unless you are an artist, then go ahead!), but most divination tools can be made quite easily.  Paint runes on small stones, use an old necklace for a pendulum, and follow these instructions to make a black scrying mirror.
  • Think Practically: What will you really use?  Do you really need a pendulum even though you are a highly visual person and maybe tarot is more your thing? It isn’t the amount of divination tools you own, but rather your skill and personal practice with them.  This tip is especially important when it comes to buying books about a divination practice.

After receiving your divination tool, a lot of people (myself included) like to program the object.  I usually sleep with it under my pillow or carry it with me for a few days.  The key is to use the cards, runes, or pendulum as often as possible.

© Ariadne Woods